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Alexander Salkind; 'Superman' Producer

March 18, 1997|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Alexander Salkind, a European film producer who with his son Ilya co-produced the first three "Superman" films starring Christopher Reeve, has died. He was 76.

Salkind died March 8 in Paris, his son announced Monday in France.

In addition to the series about the comic book caped wonder, the father-and-son team co-produced "The Three Musketeers," "The Four Musketeers" and "Santa Claus: The Movie" starring Dudley Moore.

Not all of the Salkinds' joint efforts were successful. Probably their worst box office disaster, which brought the two men to oppose each other in court, was "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" in 1992. Investors including the junior Salkind wound up suing the father and others to recoup their losses in the film, which featured short appearances by Marlon Brando and Tom Selleck.

"I know after this," Alexander Salkind told The Times during the litigation in 1993, "that I'll never make movies again."

The successful "Superman" series and other productions prompted litigation against the father and son over shares of profits and other problems.

The senior Salkind refused to release the finished print of his first "Superman" for the lucrative 1978 pre-Christmas season until Warner Bros. paid him an additional $15 million for more foreign distribution. Studio insiders compared the maneuver to Salkind demanding that Warner Bros. pay ransom. Both the producer and Warner Bros., however, profited handsomely from the expanded foreign distribution.

Born in Germany, Alexander Salkind grew up in Berlin, where his father, Miguel, produced films. He went to Cuba to help his father with films there, spent some time in Mexico and came briefly to the United States. Alexander Salkind's first solo producing effort was a Buster Keaton comedy in 1945.

He returned to Europe, where he spent his life producing motion pictures in Spain, Italy, France and Hungary.

Among his credits were the films "Austerlitz, the Trial" and "Kill! Kill! Kill!"

With his son, he also co-produced "Bluebeard," "The Light at the Edge of the World," "The Prince and the Pauper" and "Supergirl."

Alexander and Ilya Salkind also produced a poorly received television version of "Superboy."

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